Marshall says Brodie’s appreciation for people in a sense originated from the same deep understanding. “When you were with him, you never got the feeling he was distracted; when he spoke to you, you felt as if you were the sole person in the room. This is profound, because he had been to war and had seen the ultimate degradation. Somehow, in him this was expressed by a clarity of spirit and a great gentleness.”
Marshall, who went on from the Academy to a successful career at Disney and elsewhere before returning to the university, says Brodie’s art and persona both had a character she calls “translucent.” He brought who he was “into the situation,” she recalls, “rather than letting the situation dictate how he would function as an artist or as a person. He wasn’t naïve or inexperienced about life.
“I studied with Howard Brodie more than 30 years ago,” Marshall says. “I spent only 45 hours with him in class, but the lessons I learned there I’ve carried with me all my life. He was remarkable.”
It’s doubly remarkable, then, that so many who recall Brodie describe their impressions in a strikingly similar way. Chuck Pyle, director of the School of Illustration, also studied under Brodie as a classmate with Marshall in the ’70s. Like her, Pyle says the experience of seeing Brodie capture truth in a drawing was indelible.
“Howard Brodie was more of an inspirational mentor than just a drawing instructor,” Pyle says. “What he said went in very deep—and I find his words coming out of my mouth decades later when I talk to my students.”
Pyle muses that, in a way, he grew up with Howard Brodie, because his art was on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite almost every night. “Here he was, in the midst of these important historical events like the Chicago Seven trial, the My Lai massacre, Patty Hearst, the Manson trial. When we studied with him, he became our connection to history and politics through his amazing courtroom art. And in his military art, from World War II through Vietnam and Desert Storm, you can feel the heartbeats of the soldiers he drew.
“He taught us what your heart and your head should be saying to each other when you make art.”